INFORMATION ABOUT THE SEARCH OF A MISSING WOMAN
IN NORWAY (JOTUNHEIMEN).

(2 juli - 9 juli 2006)

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On this page you wil find the translated diary of the team of Rescuedogs Westervoort Holland (RHWW) www.rescuedogs.eu

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Rico & Fiero, Rémy, John
Astrid & Ayda, Corrie & Anka, Elly, Louise & Ayustar
 

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2 - 9 July 2006; search mission for a missing woman (26) in Norway
After almost two weeks of intensive preparations a mission-team of the RHWW finally left for Norway on the 2nd of July. It took longer to receive permission to enter Norway with the dogs, a.o. because of the strict regulations there in respect of rabies. The mission-team consists of 4 rescuedogs and 7 persons in total.

The preparations for the mission
As of June 4, 2006 the 26 year old Marijke Vervoort is missing in Norway. She was last seen at the Spiterstulen hotel in the natural reserve Jotunheimen. Norwegian police organises searchefforts. However, Marijke is not found back. On request of the relatives and with the cooperation of the Dutch police, a team of the RHWW (Rescue Dogs Team Westervoort) travels to the area to carry out searches.

What took place ahead of the searchoperation.
First of all there was contact with the Dutch "Postbank" where Marijke has a valid travelinsurance. Postbank soon proved willing to cover the cost of transport and expenses for the team. Next to the costs being taken care of, information about the disappearance is of high importance and from that information it already became clear that applying the Dutch dogs would provide for extra value. The organisation of the mission was started. BCD travelagency was asked to book the flights, accomodation and transport in Norway. The financial part was further to be taken care of by VIDI.

An inventory of the number of available dogs was made as well, which resulted in seven of them. However, as it turned out the biggest problem was to bring the dogs along because Norway is very strict in its rules regarding import of dogs into the country. The main concern in that respect are the rabies vaccinations and the compulsory bloodtest in view of that vaccination. A rule is that after a minimum of 120 days after the latest vaccination, a bloodtest needs to be performed. With a number of the dogs this period proved significantly shorter than the 120 days, and as a result we had a big problem. After consultations with the Norwegian authorities a dispensation of the regulations appeared possible, but in order to get that dispensation all details of all the dogs had to be sent by e-mail in advance and also the bloodtest was an obligation. In the end nevertheless a number of dogs was refused entrance, their titer value although being truly sufficient was yet significantly lower than the value in the remaining dogs, which caused the Norwegian authorities to deny them entrance.
Ultimately definite bookings could be made for four dogs, four dog handlers, 2 men support team, and one mission leader.

Sunday 2nd July: departure
At 7.00 a.m. we assemble in the departure hall of Schiphol airport. Upon collecting the tickets at the BCD Travel counter, it is clear that all has been taken care of perfectly and into the smallest details. We check in, partly at KLM and the rest at SAS. After a short flight of an hour and a half we land in Oslo where the dogs are being examined by the veterinary staff at the airport. Then through Customs and on to the rental company to pick up the cars. The journey to the area of this search-mission is considerably longer, which is a result also of the maximum speed allowed to drive in Norway.

Arrival at the hotel
It is evening already when we arrive at the hotel, where we can still enjoy a meal. After our dinner we unpack the cars and our luggage. Time for a short break and also to make the plans for tomorrow. First to the police and then to explore the search-area

Monday 3rd July: exploring
In the morning the local police gave us an extensive briefing. Then we headed for Spiterstulen right away, in Jotunheimen National Park. After a briefing by the woman owner of the hotel, we combined a survey of the terrain with rehearsing some skills of our dog-teams. The day went by too quick. It is remarkable that distances seem rather short, but the maximum speed on the roads makes for long rides. Finally, back in our hotel, on the basis of the information we had gathered we made a preliminary search-plan to leave the next morning at 8.00 a.m. for the western part of Jotunheimen.

Tuesday 4th July: the first search-day
Departure at 8.00 a.m. for the search area. We made the choice for this area because there is a trail from Spiterstulen towards the mountain hut Leirvassbu. On the day of the disapperance, this mountain hut was closed.
The weather was ideal. After a drive of some 45 minutes (35 kms) we arrived at the road towards the mountain hut. This non-dirtroad is approx. 15 kms long. The search took place along the river Leira. The terrain turned out to be of medium difficulty and fortunately there were no thorns!
Taking into account the wind, we started on the north side. The group (4 dogs) was split up between both sides of the road. By the end of the day and against our expectations we have already searched 8 kilometers over a stretch of 200 meters. Tomorrow the remaining part will be searched.
Although for the time being we are unsuccessful, we nevertheless look back on a productive and informative day. This first day taught us a lot about a.o. wind currents and conditions of the terrain.
Upon arrival back at our hotel, the equipment for tomorrow is all made ready right away. The first day caused us all to go to sleep in time.

Tuesday 4th July: the first search-day
Departure at 8.00 a.m. for the search area. We made the choice for this area because there is a trail from Spiterstulen towards the mountain hut Leirvassbu. On the day of the disapperance, this mountain hut was closed.
The weather was ideal. After a drive of some 45 minutes (35 kms) we arrived at the road towards the mountain hut. This non-dirtroad is approx. 15 kms long. The search took place along the river Leira. The terrain turned out to be of medium difficulty and fortunately there were no thorns!
Taking into account the wind, we started on the north side. The group (4 dogs) was split up between both sides of the road. By the end of the day and against our expectations we have already searched 8 kilometers over a stretch of 200 meters. Tomorrow the remaining part will be searched.
Although for the time being we are unsuccessful, we nevertheless look back on a productive and informative day. This first day taught us a lot about a.o. wind currents and conditions of the terrain.
Upon arrival back at our hotel, the equipment for tomorrow is all made ready right away. The first day caused us all to go to sleep in time.

Wednesday 5th July: the second search-day
After a good night's sleep we left early for the search area where we were yesterday. The weather was again good, and the enthusiasm big. Because the search-area on the left side of the trail is narrower than on its right side, we decided to have 1 dog search on the left side and the other three on the right side of the trail. The terrain was swampy. Rico soon was up to his knees in the mud!
Because of the nature of the terrain, we made less progress in terms of distances than had been expected. Yet the mood and enthusiasm remained good. On today's route we also reached one of the very few bridges across the river. This offered the opportunity to search on the other side of the river as well. Previously that had been impossible because of the strong current in the river. Therefore this will be a part of further searches tomorrow.
It was quite remarkable that the water level in the river had gone down compared to yesterday. But the weather forecast for tomorrow indicates that rain should be expected. As a consequence, unfortunately the water will rise again.
We have met Dutch tourists who are very familiar with the area and they were able to give us much information about distances in relation to times, and about the terrain-difficulty in the national park. Meeting them was very valuable to us. And it was also encouraging that these tourists could tell us that the disappearance is very much on the mind of other Dutch nationals presently staying in Jotunheimen. Also the Norwegians we speak with make clear they keep their ears and eyes open.
Although the area's size is truly gigantic, we stay optimistic. And that's how we want to close this day.

Thursday 6th July: the third search-day
Again an early departure for the same search area as yesterday. At a waterfall the dogs showed increased interest. For that reason John and Rémy went to fetch wetsuits at a canyoning company (Sjak Canyoning AS). The people were so kind to make these suits available to us for free, in view of the nature of our mission. When the team members returned, both searched the waterfall from all above to down below, where ever possible. Unfortunately without result. At some places where the current was very strong it was impossible to search in a safe way. In order to secure the safety of the man in the water, special stands were created and climbing gear was used. After a couple of trial efforts, with this too we gained quite some experience for possible future applications. We noticed again how, in the morning, the water was lower than the day before. During the search action in the water, it started rising again. This although, contrary to expectations, the weather was very good. It was also very warm.
The dogs have together continued searching towards the south up to the Leirvassbu. Here we have searched both sides of the river. In total we covered some 7 kilometers over an area of 300 meters on an average.
The western side of the river was searched up to a glacier stream that was impossible to cross.
During the evenings most of the time is spent taking care of ("grooming") the dogs, making preparations for the next day and processing the information gathered on that day.
GPS results of the past days indicate that the first search-area was thoroughly searched. Experience, unfortunately, tells that this is no guarantee for total exclusion.
Tomorrow óne group will go from the Spiterstulen towards a lake where policedogs have shown increased activity.
The other group will investigate the road to Spiterstulen. Hopefully tomorrow will be more successful.

Friday 7th July: the fourth search-day
After breakfast the whole group left for Spiterstulen. There they split up into a group of 4, including two members support team, and another group of 3 persons.
The group of 4 left, fully packed, right away to go to Urdadalstjonne Lake (225 x 425 meters at an altitude of approx. 1500 m), where the dogs of the Norwegian police had shown activity/interest. This was a hike of 6 hours in total over a distance of 18 kilometers. Upon arrival at the lake after 3˝ hours, searches of the lake were started immediately. Because of the weather forecast, rain should be expected. Something that was proven by threatening clouds in the sky. It meant that having mountain experience was no luxury. And it was for this reason that the 2 support-members accompanied this search team. One of the dogs, just like the police searchdogs, showed that it took an interest in the lake. Unfortunately the animal was unable to proceed this any further. In the most ideal situation there ought to be a boat to get on the water. Alas, this is impossible due to the remoteness and especially the high location (altitude) of the lake. It would appear though that divers have searched there already during the first searchaction by the Norwegians. By the end of the day everybody returned safely.

The second group started by searching from Spiterstulen to the north. Wherever possible this was done on the right as well as the left side of the road. They faced very steep slopes there that kept going down all the way to the river. The terrain was also quite capricious and swampy. This hindered the action.
At one point one of the dogs showed an increased interest. In that situation, however, unfortunately this could not be investigated much further. Tomorrow attention will again be paid to that spot. Tomorrow is the last one of the search-days and then the final part of the road away from Spiterstulen will be searched. Again, hopefully more success tomorrow.

Saturday 8th July: the 5th and final search-day
The final search-day has come to an end. Big frustration because we did not manage to find anything.

As announced, we have searched the last part of the way from Spiterstulen to the north. This was a road where the terrain alongside the road varied in width between 0 to 100 meters. This implied a constant adapting of the search-patterns. One moment everyone had to walk in line while the next moment required an entirely different position from eachother. However, it gave us the opportunity to work very efficiently and that is how we covered this area: very efficiently. The winds kept changing constantly, which forced us to adapt to the winds all the time too.

When the day was almost over, a number of the dogs showed a rising activity near a wood that went down towards the riverbank in a fairly steep manner (approx. 50 meters into the depth). The descent was too steep for the dogs and therefore too risky for them to be able to proceed and investigate this situation any further. Especially also because the dogs have now been searching for five whole days already. So John and Remy climbed through this wood "in line". Unfortunately, without success.
Finally Louise and John went to Spiterstulen to report us "out" while the rest of the group drove back to the hotel. There everything was made ready for departure. This upcoming night around 4 am and with mixed feelings we'll leave for Oslo.
Although much to our regret we have been unsuccessful in reaching our goal, the dogs deserve a big compliment. Also because of the difficult and heavy terrain, we did ask a lot from them but they have kept working really hard up to the last minute. Some of the dogs even wanted to continue searching with their paws being injured (damaged).

The team arrived safely on Schiphol Airport on July 9 2006 with two separate flights.


Monday 21 august: Confirming that a body found in a mountain lake belongs to Marijke Vervoort.

On Sunday, the body of a dead woman was found floating in Lake Gjende between Memurubu and Gjendebu in Jotunheimen. The operator of a boat that carries tourists from one end of the lake to the other spotted the body, and alerted police.
Sidsel Svarstad of the Gudbrandsdal Police District told radio station P4 that the body had been in the water for a long time and probably had been washed ashore.
An autopsy revealed no signs of foul play, and death was attributed to probable drowning.

 

Thanks to M.R. for the translation

 

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